Thursday 19 July 2018

WATCH: 'The championship is irrelevant now to the vast majority of players' - Colm O'Rourke blasts the GAA

Colm O'Rourke speaking on The Sunday Game after Mayo's 4-19 - 0-09 win over Roscommon in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final on Monday.
Colm O'Rourke speaking on The Sunday Game after Mayo's 4-19 - 0-09 win over Roscommon in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final on Monday. Sportsdesk

Sunday Independent columnist Colm O'Rourke lambasted the GAA on Monday for the association's inability to create a competitive competition structure after 2016 All-Ireland finalists Mayo defeated Roscommon 4-19 to 0-09 in Monday's All-Ireland quarter-final replay at Croke Park.

O'Rourke said that the GAA should fight against capitalist driven changes like the introduction of next year's Super 8's, and that he's also worried by what he sees as an increasing move towards elitism.

"My idea of the GAA is that the GAA should rail against that sort of capitalism concept," said O'Rourke on RTE's The Sunday Game.

"We should have a form of socialism and I am worried about this drift through to elitism with the GPA, the Sky deal which disenfranchised half a million people from seeing matches on Sunday, and all these other ways - the Super 8 - which is going to mean very little for 24 counties.

"They're never going to get an opportunity in Croke Park to play here so like unless the GAA change tack, on a lot of fronts, and the All-Ireland senior championship is just one of them, because it's irrelevant now to the vast majority of players and a lot of them are walking away and are saying 'we don't want to play with our county team anymore because there's too much effort for no chance of reward'.

Fellow Sunday Independent columnist Joe Brolly added that the current championship structure is dysfunctional and elitist and that the current regime isolates players.

"The system as we all know is entirely dysfunctional and elitist, the opposite of what the GAA is supposed to be," said Brolly.

"The hierachy will say now 'well look we're going to fill Croke Park for two great semi-finals and a final, and no doubt they will be two great semi-finals and a final, and they'll be very exciting, but it disenfranchises the vast majority of the GAA population, who really have no particular interest in it.

"What we're doing is we're going down that professional sport route of audience participation, Super 8's elitism, the rest is cut off and as Colm says, this is the urgent debate that needs to be... I don't really care what Stephen Rochford has to say about that game today to be honest. It makes no difference to me. I'm more interested in the good of the GAA."

Meanwhile eight-time All-Ireland winner Pat Spillane defended the current championship structure and said that regardless of what alterations the GAA make to the football championship's structure, the best counties will still rise to the top.

"No the championship is not dead," said Spillane.

"Are you telling me Roscommon supporters, watching the joy and euphoria of winning a Connacht final, or Down reaching an Ulster final, every county deserves a chance to compete for the All-Ireland championship.

"After that, there is a problem and we need tiers, so you have different levels for different teams like you have in every county, minor, junior, intermediate, senior, but at the end of the day no matter what system is going to go in, the top teams are always going to come through.

"Let's ask the questions why are Kerry, Tyrone, Dublin and Mayo so far ahead of the rest when so much resources is being put into county teams at all levels.

"It's a bigger question than that but I've enjoyed the championship to date. But at the end of the day any fella would have predicted the four teams that were going to be in the semi-finals."

Online Editors

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